Themes / Topics Indicators/Metrics
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Refinement & Finalization of the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT)

Following the release of the working-paper User’s Guide for the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) in 2009, a number of agencies and universities used the beta-version of MPAT in a variety of settings. In order to finalize MPAT and develop a comprehensive User’s Guide and associated resources, we built on the lessons learned from early adopters of the the tool (e.g., an NGO in Kenya) and iteratively used and evaluated the tool with IFAD-supported projects in Bangladesh and Mozambique. Details on the participatory expert elicitation methods we used are provided in a Journal of Development Studies paper. We developed an Excel-based data entry platform so users could easily calculate MPAT’s indicators at household, village, and project levels. We also wrote a comprehensive, 300+ page, 2014 MPAT User’s Guide which provides step-by-step instructions for using MPAT as well as training modules and materials, all with the goal of making MPAT an accessible open-source tool. The User’s Guide and accompanying resources were presented at a 2014 launch event in Rome. Since its 2014 release, MPAT has been translated into a number of languages, an optional 11th component focused on climate change was added, and MPAT has been used by a variety of agencies and institutions around the world. MPAT publications and related resources are available at www.ifad.org/mpat.

Evaluating Household-level Drinking Water Treatment in Rural China

After extensive discussion and planning, we started a collaborative research project with colleagues at the NCRWSTG and China CDC to characterize and assess methods of household water treatment (HWT) in low-income regions of rural China. During the first phase of this research, in the summer of 2013, we collected drinking water samples and administered surveys to 450 households across 15 rural villages in Guangxi province. To assess seasonal factors, we undertook a second round of data collection in the winter of 2013/2014 during which time we also affixed remote temperature sensors to kettles and pots to help corroborate reported boiling data. In 2014, under the supervision of China CDC colleagues Director Tao Yong and Dr. Qing Luo, we replicated the study in Henan province, collecting data from 450+ rural households during the summer.  Using a variety of modeling approaches, we evaluated the microbiological effectiveness of the HWT methods used – including bottled water (large 19L bottles) – and isolated socioeconomic predictors associated with HWT and water-related beliefs and behaviors. Among other findings, we observed that indicators of fecal contamination were lowest in drinking water samples from households using electric kettles. Our analyses of boiling-associated air pollution indicated that switching from boiling with pots and solid fuels to boiling with electric kettles would result in a measurable reduction in indoor air pollution. We also observed relatively high rates of microbiological contamination in samples from households using bottled water; and our analyses of socioeconomic factors suggested that rural bottled water use will continue to increase in the future. Results from these studies – as well as a systematic review on boiling and health outcomes – were also used to support and inform the design of an intervention to promote the use of electric kettles in low-income rural communities (see project summary above).

Wastewater & Coastal Environmental Health in the Philippines

This research collaboration between colleagues at the University of California Berkeley (UCB) and the University of the Philippines (UPD) was designed to advance methods for measuring, modelling, and assessing marine water quality and environmental health at three sites in the Philippines. One of the three study sites for this multi-year project is Boracay Island. A popular tourist destination, in recent years sewage and other contaminants have adversely impacted Boracay’s beaches and coastal water quality, with implications for both environmental and human health. This research project centers on the use of an autonomous surface vessel to collect a wide range of spatially referenced data which can be combined with data from water samples and lab-based analyses, as well as satellite and other remote sensed data. At the Boracay site, proxy sensor data (e.g., optical brighteners and tryptophan) and laboratory analyses of grab samples will be combined to map and model actual and estimated water quality and environmental health impacts from point and non-point runoff and wastewater effluent. Our planned research activities and associated timelines suffered from a variety of logistical setbacks and delays, but we are now working under a no-cost extension to complete our primary research objectives for Boracay, as well as the other research sites (Bolinao and Tubbataha).

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool: A new framework for measuring rural poverty. 

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) measures fundamental dimensions of rural poverty in order to support poverty-alleviation efforts in the less developed world. This article’s primary purpose is to introduce MPAT and describe its theoretical rationale. It begins with an overview of the importance of creating enabling environments for rural poverty alleviation before describing MPAT’s purpose and structure. The article goes on to address some of the advantages and shortcomings of surveys and indicators as means of measuring poverty, and concludes with a few caveats on using MPAT, and a focus on its added value to practitioners and academics.

Developing a Thematic Indicator for Rural Poverty Assessment (MPAT)

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Project was a collaborative, international initiative to develop, test, and pilot a new tool for local-level rural poverty assessment. The work was supported by IFAD and guided by a Sounding Board of experts from IFAD, other United Nations agencies, international and regional organizations, and universities around the world, with the majority of its members coming from the Asia region where we developed and tested the tool in China and India. Surveys (household and village level) were developed and tested in an iterative and participatory fashion, as was the indicator structure used to aggregate sub-components and components. The resulting Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) provides an assessment, an overview, of ten dimensions central to rural livelihoods, highlighting where additional support or interventions are likely to be most needed. The tool was designed to be universal enough to be relevant to most rural contexts around the world, yet specific enough to provide project managers and others a detailed overview of key dimensions relevant to rural poverty reduction efforts. MPAT was independently evaluated by the European Commission Joint Research Center and a working-paper version of MPAT User’s Guide was released in 2009 as well as the 2009 MPAT Book, which provides a detailed description of why and how the tool was developed. MPAT’s theoretical foundations are described in a 2010 article in Development and Practice.

Water & poverty in rural China: Developing an instrument to assess the multiple dimensions of water & poverty

Abstract/Summary: This paper describes the theoretical foundations and development of a multidimensional, water-focused, thematic indicator of rural poverty: The Water, Economy, Investment and Learning Assessment Indicator (WEILAI). The WEILAI approach was specifically designed for application in rural China, to support poverty alleviation project planning, monitoring and evaluation, as well as targeting and prioritization. WEILAI builds primarily on the basic needs framework of poverty alleviation, and on the methodological structure of the Water Poverty Index, to provide a proxy measure of an area’s poverty by assessing eight key poverty sectors, with a strong focus on the components of water-poverty. The WEILAI approach was piloted and implemented in 534 households in China’s mountainous southwest. This paper describes the indicator construction, weighting schemes, methodology, field sites, and statistical validation of the results. In addition, we discuss the results, feedback from in-country project staff, and the likely utility of the tool for project planning, monitoring and evaluation support. The paper concludes with a discussion of WEILAI’s overall utility and ongoing development.

Quantifying the qualitative: Eliciting expert input to develop the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool

Abstract/Summary: This article discusses the participatory creation of the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT), a survey-based thematic indicator developed in China and India. The core of the article focuses on the use of expert elicitation to inform the construction of MPAT’s household and village surveys, the cardinalisation of survey responses, and the weighting scheme design. This is followed by a discussion of the potential pitfalls of expertise in development, the decision not to aggregate MPAT into an index, creating locally relevant poverty lines, and ideas for future research. The article closes with a summary of lessons learned.

Effects of boiling drinking water on diarrhea & pathogen-specific infections in low- & middle-income countries: A systematic review & meta-analysis

Abstract/Summary: Globally, approximately 2 billion people lack microbiologically safe drinking water. Boiling is the most prevalent household water treatment method, yet evidence of its health impact is limited. To conduct this systematic review, we searched four online databases with no limitations on language or publication date. Studies were eligible if health outcomes were measured for participants who reported consuming boiled and untreated water. We used reported and calculated odds ratios (ORs) and random-effects meta-analysis to estimate pathogen-specific and pooled effects by organism group and nonspecific diarrhea. Heterogeneity and publication bias were assessed using I2, meta-regression, and funnel plots; study quality was also assessed. Of the 1,998 records identified, 27 met inclusion criteria and reported extractable data. We found evidence of a significant protective effect of boiling for Vibrio cholerae infections (OR = 0.31, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.13–0.79, N = 4 studies), Blastocystis (OR = 0.35, 95% CI = 0.17–0.69, N = 3), protozoal infections overall (pooled OR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.43–0.86, N = 11), viral infections overall (pooled OR = 0.83, 95% CI =0.7–0.98, N = 4), and nonspecific diarrheal outcomes (OR = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.45–0.77, N = 7). We found no evidence of aprotective effect for helminthic infections. Although our study was limited by the use of self-reported boiling and nonexperimental designs, the evidence suggests that boiling provides measureable health benefits for pathogens whose transmission routes are primarily water based. Consequently, we believe a randomized controlled trial of boiling adherence and health outcomes is needed.

The Rural Water Livelihoods Index. Working Paper

Abstract/Summary: The Rural Water Livelihood Index (RWLI) is calculated on the basis of components and indicator values representing each of these four dimensions. The resulting composite index reflects the values for these four dimensions, and on this basis, judgements can be made on how water management might be improved. Each of the four dimensions (components) of the RWLI are represented by two subcomponents, which are combined using a weighted average. In this report, this framework is applied at the national scale, but the approach can be used at any scale as long as appropriate data is available. The purpose of the RWLI is to provide policy makers and planners at the national level an overview of where their country stands relative to others (much like the Human Development Index), and relative to themselves over time, to examine and monitor progress being made as a result of actions taken. This in turn will hopefully allow for better targeted water related interventions to improve rural livelihoods. Through the measurement of these key components, it will be possible to assess which of the four dimensions are most likely to benefit from interventions. Appropriate interventions are context-specific and will have to be identified on a country-by-country basis since contexts differ so widely (i.e., responses to address the reported states will be country and site-specific). However, a general Response Matrix is being developed to provide planners and policy makers a conceptual framework to guide this process and at a macro-level the index values help national-level planners identify which sectors might be most in need of assistance.

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool: Brochure (& Infographics)

Abstract/Summary: The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) provides data that can inform all levels of decision making by providing a clearer understanding of rural poverty at the household and village level. As a result, MPAT can significantly strengthen the planning, design, monitoring and evaluation of a project, and thereby contribute to rural poverty reduction.

This brochure explains:

    • What MPAT is
    • How MPAT works
    • When to use MPAT and why
    • How to use MPAT
    • What resources are available for implementing MPAT

The tool allows project managers, government officials, researchers and others to identify and monitor sectors that require support in order to reduce rural poverty and improve livelihoods. It also provides an objective means of justifying resource allocation or planning priorities. MPAT is based on a bottom-up, participatory approach that reflects communities’ voices, wants and perspectives.